Claims on land settled by 2014 - EQC

MARC GREENHILL
Last updated 05:00 07/11/2012
EQC spokesman Iain Butler, left, and chief executive Ian Simpson
JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/Fairfax NZ

LAND TALK: EQC spokesman Iain Butler, left, and chief executive Ian Simpson, outline the commission's plans for dealing with land claims.

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All Christchurch land-damage claims will be settled by the end of 2014, the Earthquake Commission (EQC) says.

The commission yesterday said 100 two-person teams would, from January, begin assessing the 70,000 claims that included land damage.

Four groups would start from the Pines, Waimairi, New Brighton and Sumner beaches and work from east to west.

Assessments were expected to be completed the end of next year and settled by the end of 2014.

Port Hills settlements were expected within six months because the type of damage, mainly landslip, rockfall and cliff collapse, was a common event for the EQC.

Land-settlement programme spokesman Zac Berry said that in most cases claims would be settled in cash about two months after being assessed.

"The reason that end date is far further out than two months past the end of assessment is because there are going to be a number of complex claims or additional information required," he said.

"That's our worst-case scenario. Obviously we're trying to beat that as best we can."

Only properties with a land claim or where geotechnical experts indicated land damage - about 70,000 cases - had occurred would be assessed.

The remaining 100,000 people who had claimed could still include land, but Berry said it would unnecessarily slow assessments.

"They shouldn't come up because our area-wide studies have indicated there's less damage out in those areas, but it doesn't stop the general public from calling up and asking to open a land claim," he said.

Land-damage claims were subject to apportionment, where liability was spread across multiple claims.

The process would be "far simpler" than for building damage, Berry said.

"We have more information about Christchurch's land than we have about anything in the world at the moment,'' he said.

"The vast majority of properties that have land damage will be apportioned to one or two events. We won't be looking to apportion them over a number."

EQC spokesman Iain Butler said two new Canterbury-specific categories had been introduced for the increased risk from future quakes.

Qualifying land would be assessed on the risk of flood or liquefaction damage in a 1-in-100-year event, similar to the September 2010 quake.

There was no set value cap as with building damage, but the EQC was required by legislation to consider the lesser of cost of repair or the land's value, he said. "It really is situational to every property." 

Reinstatement of land in most cases was impractical, he said.

"If there was a house on the site that was largely undamaged, then we'd have to take it off the site, put the land back to its pre-quake condition and put the house back,'' he said.

''The damage, inconvenience and cost would be prohibitive in proportion to the value of the claim."

The drilling programme used to determine new technical category 3 foundation designs would "double up" for the land-claim settlements, Butler said.

CRUCIAL FACTS

- EQC insures land within 8 metres from a house or outbuilding, or 60m of the main accessway.

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- 170,000 EQC property claims.

- Of those, 70,000 claims for either land, or land and building, damage.

- Assessment will move east to west during 2013. Settlements within two months of assessment, in most cases.

- Port Hills settlements to be completed early next year.

- All land claims should be settled by the end of 2014.

- Land more susceptible to damage has now been included. Qualifying land is assessed on the basis of the risk of flood or liquefaction damage in a 1-in-100-year event, similar to the September 2010 quake. Land already flood or liquefaction-prone before September 2010 will in most cases not qualify.

- The EQC will probably cash-settle because reinstating land will often be impractical.

- Properties assessed as being at increased risk will still be able to be built on. Up to 2000 properties will be tested through drilling.

- No additional drilling is needed for properties within 50m of sites used for TC3 foundation design testing.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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